Americans spend over $50 billion a year eating outside of the home. For many families, this can account for up to 10% of total income—to put this in perspective, this is half the amount withheld from paychecks for the typical earner. As such, it is important to spend this money wisely.

One of the biggest questions for families when seeking out a restaurant in New Jersey is whether it is acceptable to bring the whole family along. As many eateries are now serving liquor, the difference between a bar, a restaurant, and a pub and grill in New Jersey is growing smaller. No matter where you are interested in going for dinner, check out the menus and make sure there is something that your whole family likes—even the kids. Once you’ve determined whether your venue of choice is safe for children, consider these top five reasons why bringing your whole family out to dinner can be a great idea.

  • Be Flexible. Especially with little children, it is important to encourage them to try a variety of foods—and foods that are different from how they are made at home! Many children will turn their noses up at new foods or foods that are prepared differently than their favorite dish, but the experience of being in a restaurant opens doors to new and different things. Don’t feel limited to the kids’ menu—consider splitting a dish with a small child, or ordering appetizers or desserts to share with everyone.

  • Celebrate an accomplishment. While more and more families are eating out regularly, dining in a restaurant can still be a special occasion for children. Take it to the next level by dressing up, seeing a movie before or after, or letting your child choose his or her favorite restaurant in New Jersey.

  • Learn valuable life skills. While your child gets to practice manners, math, and reading at school, allowing him the chance to practice these in real life is a great opportunity. Set aside a little extra time to read the menu, and allow young children to sound out the words. For unfamiliar dishes or foods borrowed from foreign cultures, adults and children alike can have fun guessing how the foods should be pronounced—and your server will be happy to tell you how it’s really said. Young children can say “please” and “thank you,” while older children can be taught how to order food themselves, ask the server about special dishes, or even ask for the check. For a fun math activity, have your child try to calculate the total based off the menu, or have her help figure out the tip.

  • Create a special tradition. Tradition builds stability and routine while giving a child something to look forward to. Consider finding your child’s favorite restaurant in New Jersey and visiting it regularly. This sets aside a special time for the family where there are no distractions, no homework, and no other tasks to take on.

  • Improve communication. At a restaurant, your activities are more or less limited to eating and chatting. During those periods where your mouth isn’t full—or even if it is—take the opportunity to talk to one another! Establish a “no-phone” rule, or limit phone checks to certain times—maybe once every half hour—to create a truly relaxing and connecting experience.

For all of these reasons and more, consider making tonight’s dinner a family occasion! At Spring Street Pub, we offer a variety of delicious items that are sure to appeal to any palete, as well as a few dedicated kids’ meal items. When you are looking for a great place to get dinner in New Jersey, consider stopping by Spring Street Pub for something special.